N 15° W 97°

Tetrahedral Kite, dunes, 2015, digital photograph

N 15° W 97° is a series of photographs that form part of a body of work developed on the Oaxacan Coast of Mexico, during a season-long residency at Fundación Casa Wabi. Four types of kites, crafted out of black ripstop nylon and palm dowels, provide the basis of this project exploring the relationship of geometry to nature, figure to landscape, and self to place. These photographs, along with the drawings and videos produced at Casa Wabi, sit within Mao’s sculptural practice.

Mao’s fundamental interest in building systems leads him to the kites, geometric constructions attempting to harness nature through point, line and plane. Before kites became widely used as toys, they were used for military communication or scientific research, developed by inventors like Alexander Graham Bell. They were flown as military ensigns and signals, the flight paths used as a tracking device, and were the first step towards envisioning the load-bearing flight of airplanes. Kites are architecturally modernist, a cell within a modular superstructure. In the same period of the turn of the 20th century, the acceptance of non-Euclidean geometry suggested alternate or additional ways of visually and spiritually processing our surroundings, subverting the traditional renaissance tools of perspective.

In this series, the kites are centered, grounded in landscape. At first, the kites are an esoteric flat geometric shape, carving a hole in the terrain. Then, the surface becomes apparent and there is an acknowledgment of the shapes’ physicality, bouncing the eye back and forth between materiality and absence. The photographs create an existentialist dialectic between the object, representation of the object, and absence of the object; the negative space suggesting a portal to an alternate continuum. Mao approaches the kites as sculptures, and in photographing them utilizes their background as tools to deduce or alter perceptual experience. The photographic experience of sculpture is a deception, sculptures are meant to have corporeality and a conversation of the space around them. Mao plays with this deception, reshaping the perception of space.

Sugura Kite, Field, 2015, digital photograph
Cube Kite, gardens, 2015, digital photograph
2015. (Cube), 2015, wax on ripstop nylon, 60″ x 39”
“N 15º 56′ W 97º 16′ Kites)”, 2015, charcoal and pencil on paper, 48-1/2″ x 59-1/2″
“Flight Vectors, Study”, 2015, ink on vellum over pencil on paper, 35-3/4″ x 24″

Kite 20, 2015, digital video, 3:02 ort

installation view of three photos at San Isidro’s Still, anonymous gallery, Mexico City 2018

San Isidro’s Still attempts to link, through a particular setting, the sphere of art with the world of entheogens. San Isidro, in this way, refers to the common name given to hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mexico. Connections between such states of intoxication and art as instigators of profane insight, new perceptions, ritual encounter, and ludic explorations are addressed, historically, through different creative processes. The exhibition continues a long tradition of such explorations through art of the twentieth century – individuals including Antonin Artaud, Henri Michaux, and Rudolf Steiner; just to mention a few. The artworks in this exhibition deal with notions related to the cosmos, archaic and symbolic forms, the spirituality of the natural world, the architecture of geology and minerals, sacred geometry, and the relation between the microcosm and macrocosm. The materiality and solutions of the artists’ works adjusts and reinforces the exhibition’s perspective.

Participating artists: Anouk Kruithof, Clive Murphy, Cristina Tufiño, Eamon Ore Giron, Fernando González Gortázar, Isa Carrillo, Jippies Asquerosos, JIS, Kristin Reger, Marie Strauss, Roxanne Jackson, Santiago Merino, Yeni Mao.

Curated by Paulina Ascencio & Daniel Garza Usabiaga